They are yellowish-red solids, which behave as weak bases, their salts undergoing hydrolytic dissociation in aqueous solution.
Certain a-diketones condense to form benzenoid quinones, two molecules of the diketone taking part in the reaction; thus diacetyl, CH 3 CO CO CH 3, yields p-xyloquinone, C 6 H 2 (CH 3) 2 0 2 (Ber., 1888, 21, p. 1411), and acetylpropionyl, CH 3 CO CO C 2 H 5, yields duroquinone, or tetramethylquinone, C 6 (CH 3) 4 0 2, Oxymethylene compounds, characterized by the grouping > C:CH(OH), also give benzene derivatives by hydrolytic condensation between three molecules; thus oxymethylene acetone, or formyl acetone, CH 3 CO.
It appears to be synthesized in the plant tissues from carbon dioxide and water, formaldehyde being an intermediate product; or it may be a hydrolytic product of a glucoside or of a polysaccharose, such as cane sugar, starch, cellulose, &c. In the plant it is freely converted into more complex sugars, poly-saccharoses and also proteids.
On the other hand, they are much weaker bases than the aliphatic amines, their salts undergoing hydrolytic dissociation in aqueous solution.
The alkali and alkaline earth cyanides are soluble in water and in alcohol, and their aqueous solution, owing to hydrolytic dissociation, possesses an alkaline character.